I’m in Palolem beach in South Goa with a bunch of my office colleagues. It’s a quiet place compared to the beaches in the North and you will find only dogs and bikini-clad foreigners sun bathing in front of the few shacks that are there, and strangely very less Indians – at least this is the off-season scene there.
We rent two rooms for a combined cost of Rs.3000 for one night. The rooms actually look like an ideal setup for a low grade porn movie, but then, it fulfills our modest requirements. We just need a place to dump our luggage and sleep for a few hours, if possible. We plan to be out on the beach until early morning.
This is the room I’m talking about
This is how close we are to the beach. View from the room.
But the night does not quite go according to plan. After a very heavy drinking session, one of the guys is completely ‘out’ and another one is on the brink of turning violent. I suddenly cannot wait for the night to pass. I abandon the night out plan on the beach and hit the bed early.
I don’t know for how long I have been sleeping but I wake up with a start at what seems to be the middle of the night. The bed I’m sleeping on is violently shaking. I try to bring myself to my senses quickly but before I can do that, the shaking stops. I glance around the room. There is enough light streaming in through the half-open door of the toilet where the light was left on intentionally. I’m at the far side of the room and two guys are sleeping between me and the door. Both are drunk to the bones and they are sleeping like they are in coma. Everything looks normal.
I must have just been imagining, I think.
I’m slowly drifting back into sleep when the jerking returns. Earthquake! I roll over to the edge of the bed and lean down towards the floor. I’m attempting to hide under the bed. But as abruptly as the shaking started, it stops.
It’s raining outside. I lie on my back, with my heart pounding against my ribs and listening to the incessant drumming of the rain on the tin roof and thunder rolling in the sky. I wouldn’t want to admit that I’m terrified, but I’m terrified.
What could it be? Is it an Earthquake or a Tsunami? I wonder. Our room is perilously close to the sea – even a 2 meter high tide can easily wash away the flimsy structure.
A few minutes later, the shaking once again returns and this time even stronger than before. I clasp my hands around the leg of a bedside table. Then, I realize the table isn’t shaking. It’s only the bed! The shaking stops after approximately ten seconds.
The very thought of a ghost spikes up my heart beat. Scenes from the movie Paranormal Activity comes flooding into my mind especially the one in which a dark entity stands at the foot of the bed, watching. I switch on my cellphone for more light and lie on my side facing my friend. He lies as stiff and straight as a dead body but it is comforting to think I’m not alone.
I wait, wild eyed and fully awake, for the shaking to come back. I’m sure it will shake again. Soon, with a sharp jerking start, the iron bed rocks vigorously with a screeching sound as the metal frame rubs against the floor.
Then, suddenly, it dawns on me. I almost burst into a roaring laughter.
It has been extremely cold inside the room. The AC’s showing 15 degrees. There are no blankets to cover ourselves. I have somehow tucked myself inside the mattress cover but my stiff drunk friend is lying fully exposed to the cold which has in fact increased due to the rain and it is his shivering bouts that are shaking the bed.
I sleep like a baby afterwards with the bed rocking me into deep slumber. Next morning I will see him curled up like a fetus under the thin mattress sheet.
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